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From the periphery: real-life stories of disability
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From the Periphery consists of more than thirty first-person narratives of everyday people who describe what it's like to be treated differently by society because of their disabilities. The stories are raw and painful, but also surprisingly funny and deeply inspiring. The oral histories describe anger, independence, bigotry, solidarity and love--in the family, at school, and at the workplace. Inspired by the oral historians Studs Terkel and Svetlana Alexievich, From the Periphery will become a classic collection that increases understanding of the lived experiences of people with disabilities.
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In this series of brief chapters, human-rights lawyer Justesen summarizes her conversations with over 30 adults with disabilities. The interviews center around the premise of disability as a social construct, addressing instances of prejudice, discrimination, and dismissal. Although the types and levels of disability vary (physical, visual, auditory, cognitive, mental), many sentiments are expressed over and over: public treatment that fed into negative self-image and feelings of worthlessness; anger, rage, and denial; feelings of invisibility; and isolation. Additionally almost all of the participants bring up instances where their civil rights have been ignored. These miscarriages of justice occur in educational settings, housing, and the workplace, leading many to seek support groups and become involved in disability-rights activism. Not all the stories have happy endings. However, several interviewees mention finding self-acceptance, coming to terms with insensitive strangers and ignorant officials, developing coping mechanisms, and learning how to deflect condescending pity or being held up as an inspirational icon. These first-person narratives are eye-opening, honest, and compelling.--Kathleen McBroom Copyright 2010 Booklist
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